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Sep 7, 2000 05:29 PM

Alcohol-free extracts?

  • p

Can anyone recommend a source for extracts (vanilla, almond, etc. etc.) that do not contain alcohol?

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  1. I don't know a general source, and to be honest, I'm not sure you can buy pure extracts that don't contain alcohol.

    An alcohol-free alternative to vanilla extract, however, is pure vanilla poweder. One brand is Nielsen-Massey (one of the best brands of vanilla available), and I'm pretty sure Cook's (another good vanilla brand) makes one as well.

    King Arthur Flour (link below) sells Nielsen-Massey vanilla powder, and I've seen it in Williams-Sonoma shops (though it's not in their online catalog). My mother has used the N-M vanilla powder in cooking and bakind, on the advice of a friend who can't tolerate any alcohol, and has found it comparable to extract.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin

      I dont quite understand why there would be a need for alcohol-free extracts in the first place.

      I mean, you're adding the extracts in such minute amounts, and then in the process of cooking or baking the alcohol is completely consumed by the chemical reaction of burning it off.

      Even if you were a recovering alcoholic I doubt it would cause you to fall off the wagon.

      1. re: Jason Perlow

        Extracts aren't always cooked, though. Vanilla in whipped cream, almond extract in fresh fruit dishes. Some recovering alcoholics are very concerned about even tiny amounts.

        1. re: Caitlin

          Even a good powdered vanilla, while it may work okay in cakes and such (heat is pretty lethal to the flavor of vanilla anyway), tastes absolutely horrible stirred into uncooked foods.

          If you must cook without even a gram of added alcohol--with a drops of extract, the effects must be purely psychosomatic--why not just roast and grind some almonds instead, or make vanilla sugar, or boil down come cloves?

          1. re: Pepper

            Vanilla extract is pretty crappy to begin with. The way we do it at home is we get some vanilla beans and soak em in a small vial of rum, and scrape a little the beans out after they have been nice and soaked.

            You can re-use the beans, and the rum gets really infused with the vanilla bean, and tastes a hell of a lot better than vanilla extract.

        2. re: Jason Perlow

          I have a severe sulfite allergy which exacerbates my asthma. Extracts are usually 35% ethyl alcohol which is derived from corn using a sulfiting process. Even minute amounts causes an asthma attack. That, sir, is a valid reason for wanting alcohol-related extracts!

          1. re: Jason Perlow

            One might not fall off the wagon, but baking does not consume akcohol content in recipes at all and cooking only consume 80% of alcohol content.

        3. Are you anywhere near a Trader Joe's? Their "Cookbook Vanilla" works OK in baked goods, puddings & cakes. Not exactly the real thing, but hey. It was about $2 for 4fl.oz. when I bought it a year ago, also much cheaper than the real thing.

          Ingredients: Vanilla Bean Extractives, Glycerin, Sugar, Xanthan Gum, Water. They might have almond and others as well. If you're in NYC, Zabars might also be able to help you.

          1. There is an alcohol-free vanilla extract, as was mentioned, available at Trader Joes. I found it to be virtually flavorless (picked it up by mistake) and tossed the bottle after one use. The problem with alcohol-free extracts is that many flavor compounds, vanilla among them, are fully soluble only in alcohol, not water, so you just won't get much flavor without it.

            1. I don't know the company that makes them, but I have bought alcohol free almond extracts at Whole Foods Markets. You could probably have luck at other natural/organic food stores.

              1. Patrick: If you receive this, I'd be interested in any sources you have found. I was glad to find the following:

                Check out They have a line of "Natural Flavors" that are vegetable glycerin based and not alcohol based like most extracts.